The long-rumored resigning of Hedo Turkoglu by the Los Angeles Clippers finally became a reality today as the Clippers reported that he would be returning to the team. Details of the deal were not released, but the Clippers can only sign veteran's minimum contracts at this point, so the only mystery is whether it's guaranteed or not.
I was not enthusiastic about the original signing, but honestly, Hedo was pretty darn good for the Clippers. Both his three point percentage and his rebounding were significant outliers compared to his career averages, but I for one am willing to give him a chance to replicate them. When he was first signed, the question was whether he would play the four or the five, but Doc Rivers used him exclusively as a power forward last season, and it seems reasonable to assume that he'll do the same this season.
Hedo is far from a traditional power forward, but he's all those hybrid things -- a point forward, a stretch 4, whatever fancy term you want to use -- in spades. He may be 38, but he's one of those guys that has an innate feel for the game, and you don't lose that. Both Turkoglu and Spencer Hawes are great additions to Lob City -- but as the lobbers, not as the lobbees.
The Clippers now have 14 players on their roster, which is significant in that it allows them to use special training camp contracts to flesh out their camp roster without taking on a lot of financial risk. They still have one roster spot, which they'll undoubtedly ave to use at a later date. It's unclear whether the last three signees (Turkoglu, Ekpe Udoh and Chris Douglas-Roberts) have guaranteed deals, but it hardly matters. If the Clippers need a roster spot or a little extra room under the hard cap at the trade deadline or to pick someone up during buyout season, they can always jettison one or more of their one year deals using Steve Ballmer's money to sweeten the pot for the trading partner. They also have some relatively attractive expiring deals (Matt Barnes and the less-than-fully-guaranteed Jamal Crawford) to use to try to make trades. They'll be actively trying to upgrade the roster during the season, particularly at small forward -- though it remains unclear how they might accomplish that.
For now though, this is the team. The Clippers will enter the season with these 14 players, and considering that Turkoglu is no higher than 12th man on the current depth chart, I think it's safe to say that they're much better off than they were a year ago. Remember, when an out of shape Turkoglu joined the Clippers in January, he immediately became the third big. He'll start this season as the fifth big.